After 78 Years, Calif. Will Apologize to Japanese Americans

State will apologize for its role in internment
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 17, 2020 12:11 AM CST
California to Apologize for Internment of Japanese-Americans
In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, Les Ouchida poses at the permanent exhibit titled "UpRooted Japanese Americans in World War II" at the California Museum in Sacramento, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Les Ouchida was born an American just outside California's capital city but his citizenship mattered little after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the US declared war. Based solely on their Japanese ancestry, the 5-year-old and his family were taken from their home in 1942 and imprisoned far away in Arkansas. They were among 120,000 Japanese Americans held at 10 internment camps during World War II, their only fault being “we had the wrong last names and wrong faces," says Ouchida, now 82. On Thursday, California's Legislature is expected to approve a resolution offering an apology to Ouchida and other internment victims for the state's role in aiding the US government's policy and condemning actions that helped fan anti-Japanese discrimination, the AP reports.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order No. 9066 establishing the camps was signed on Feb. 19, 1942, and 2/19 is now marked by Japanese Americans as a Day of Remembrance. A congressional commission in 1983 concluded that the detentions were a result of "racial prejudice, war hysteria, and failure of political leadership.” Five years later, the US government formally apologized and paid $20,000 in reparations to each victim. The California resolution doesn’t come with any compensation. It targets the actions of the California Legislature at the time for supporting the internments. "I want the California Legislature to officially acknowledge and apologize while these camp survivors are still alive," says Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, who sponsored the resolution.

(Read more California stories.)

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